An online sex sting created last week by the Citrus County, Florida Sheriff’s Office resulted in more than a dozen men arrested for allegedly traveling from as far as Jacksonville, Plant City and Sanford to Inverness, FL with the hopes of engaging in sexual relations with what they thought would be an underage boy or girl.
None of the 18 people arrested in the undercover sex sting called “Operation Cyber Guardian” were found on Florida’s sex offender web site.
According to detectives, suspects are getting smarter about online police tactics in cyber stings. Detectives encountered several men who were reluctant to meet at a house, which is usually where undercover officials lie in wait to make arrests.
One of the men arrested allegedly requested to meet in a restaurant parking lot.
Law enforcement agents said they are always learning new ways to troll the Internet in the hopes of arresting supposed online sex predators, even if their ways are considered devious.
In Florida, thousands of people are arrested every year for Internet sex crimes after falling into undercover cyber sex traps. In these sting operations detectives will most likely pose as a child in a chat room or will make up a bogus advertisement or phony web site luring people to engage in illegal activities with minors. After the suspect and the undercover official communicate about sexual interests, there is usually a meet-up arranged at a home. Once the suspect arrives at the home and rings the doorbell, he or she is usually wrestled to the ground and arrested. The same is true for any other location made for sexual meetings, like parking lots or parks; once the suspect shows up, they are arrested.
While the details of these men’s arrests are unknown as of yet, many times the charges include traveling to meet a minor for sex, solicitation of a minor and possession or distribution of child pornography. Generally, after these undercover stings police seize suspect’s computers to look for any information that can tell them if the person is predisposed to the type of behavior in which he or she is accused. The computer used by the accused is the primary source for investigators to obtain any evidence about predisposition on the suspect, such as child pornography. If these searches are performed illegally, none of the evidence gathered can support the case or tack on any new charges.
The Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand just how skilled these undercover agents are at enticing adults into illegal behavior and how devastating the consequences can be. By knowing the tricks used by law enforcement officials, we can work towards getting your charges reduced or dismissed. Police procedures in these undercover sex stings are always changing; we stay ahead of the game so that your rights are protected throughout criminal proceedings.
If you have been arrested for charges stemming from an undercover sex trap in Citrus County or throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or call our Inverness office at 352-726-0078 or reach us toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).
The staff was very attentive and answered all my questions regarding my criminal case. I was very pleased with the outcome and professionalism. Crystal Vasquez
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